Change of "airs": from coal-fired power to wind power

We are living through a historic transition in the way we produce energy: from coal to renewable energies. Many people are making this transition possible thanks to their commitment and courage. Like Paco Cal, who after 30 years at the As Pontes thermal power plant, has made the leap to wind farms.

Paco Cal, Head of O&M Wind Technical Services, at a wind farm of Enel Green Power España, a renewable subsidiary of Endesa.
Paco Cal, Head of O&M Wind Technical Services, at a wind farm of Enel Green Power España, a renewable subsidiary of Endesa.

The commitments of the European climate change agenda to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 represent an unprecedented challenge for the energy sector. In Endesa we are experiencing the greatest industrial reconversion in our history and taking important steps towards decarbonisation thanks to the commitment of all the people who are part of this company, many of them former workers of the coal plants that are ending their life cycle.

Paco Cal worked at the As Pontes plant (A Coruña) for 30 years, the last 14 as maintenance manager. An industrial engineer, he is now facing a new professional stage in the wind division of Enel Green Power España (EGPE), a renewable subsidiary of Endesa. Like other colleagues, such as Paulino Guía and Sonia Bielsa, Paco is one of the people from thermal power plants who have found a new opportunity, changing the black of coal for the green of renewables.

Paco is currently responsible for technical services in the operation and maintenance of EGPE's wind farms. In 2019, he realised that a "change of air" was needed, since As Pontes went from having a production of 9,000 GW to 2,000 GW a year. "This has been a process motivated by the loss of competitiveness of coal plants. More than a sudden change, it is a development in my career path," he says.

 

A step forward in the fight against climate change

To contribute to the fight against climate change, at Endesa we are showing a strong commitment to decarbonisation, the commitment to renewable energies and digitalisation. The decarbonisation process includes a major change in the way electricity is produced. That's why our coal-fired power plants are taking over from wind and photovoltaic farms.

"I have been working for 30 years at a company in which I have been able to verify that not only are environmental standards strictly complied with, but that great efforts have always been made to go one step ahead," says the head of technical services.

“Endesa not only strictly complies with environmental standards, but has always made great efforts to go one step ahead”.

– Paco Cal, Head of O&M Wind Technical Services.

Paco Cal in the facilities of the As Pontes thermal power plant: on the roof of the coal park and on top of the coal storage facility.
Paco Cal in the facilities of the As Pontes thermal power plant: on the roof of the coal park and on top of the coal storage facility.

Paco emotionally recalls his years at As Pontes: "I spent 30 years in the thermal power plant and I had a very good team. You know you're going somewhere else, with a new situation, but it's the natural way out. The evolution of the market points towards wind, hydro and solar. We are all moving towards renewable energies and we all have to reinvent ourselves. We have to change the chip, but with enthusiasm and with the desire to do the best possible," explains Paco Cal.

The current job of the head of technical services is to support all wind technology. As he explains, it is divided into three geographical areas, the northwest, the east and the south, and they act as a transversal team that serves all. The staff is distributed in several centres in Spain - Santiago, As Pontes, Zaragoza, Seville and the Canary Islands - and the idea is to continue growing. "It's a big change in technology and a different way of working, but the reception has been spectacular. They are a phenomenal team with amazing equipment," says Cal.

“The evolution of the market points towards wind, hydro and solar. We are all moving towards renewable energies and we all have to reinvent ourselves”.

– Paco Cal, Head of O&M Wind Technical Services.

Plans for a sustainable future

At Endesa we work to achieve environmental objectives, but we do so taking into account our people and local communities. To this end, we have launched future plans (Futur-e Plans) adapted to the needs of each territory. In the case of As Pontes, the plan contemplates the development of economic activities and job creation in the area and, in addition, includes high investments in new renewable energy projects.

Therefore, as Paco assures, "Endesa is not leaving As Pontes, it is just changing its way of producing electricity. It maintains the combined cycle, its Wind Power logistics warehouse, the Eume's hydropower plants continue to operate and the idea is to set up a hydrogen plant and wind farms. All this must have an impact on the development of the area and employment. In addition, international projects will also be captured."

“Endesa is not leaving As Pontes, it is just changing the way it produces electricity”.

– Paco Cal, Head of O&M Wind Technical Services.

The Futur-e Plan for As Pontes also contemplates the search for business alternatives for the facility that is closing. Through an international competition of ideas, the aim is to promote companies, institutions and other public and private actors to present sustainable investment and job creation projects on the site of the plant. It is the same model that is being followed to generate business opportunities in other thermal power plants that are currently being shut down, such as Compostilla (el Bierzo) and Carboneras (Almería).

 

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